The Pill or Not the Pill?
Choosing the right contraception to meet your needs can be intimidating. This decision can not only prevent pregnancy now, but also safeguard your fertility in the future.
You need to think about:
- how effective and convenient the contraceptive method is,
- how long it lasts,
- whether it can be reversed,
- its side effects,
- and if it provides protection against sexually transmitted infections.
Learn more -
The American Society for Reproductive Medicine has several resources to help you make the choice that is right for you:
Start with the ASRM Topic Index where you can find information on:
ASRM has Facts Sheets and Booklets written with you in mind such as:
Or find out what your physician is reading:
- ASRM Practice Guidelines, including:
How does contraception work?
Contraceptive agents prevent pregnancy either hormonally or by nonhormonal methods. Most hormonal contraceptives like the birth control pill, the contraceptive skin patch, the vaginal ring worn inside the vagina, the contraceptive implant inserted under the skin of the upper arm, or the injectable contraceptive shot, all work by changing a woman's hormone levels to mimic a pregnancy, therefore preventing eggs from releasing from the ovary. In contrast, nonhormonal contraceptive barrier devices such as spermicide, condoms, diaphragms, cervical caps or contraceptive sponges work by preventing a man's sperm from joining a woman's egg. IUDs or intrauterine devices are a form of contraception which consists of a device which is placed inside a woman's uterus and can contain hormonal contraception or be inserted without hormones. IUDs can impair sperm movement and change the lining of the uterus to prevent fertilitzed eggs from implanting. Surgery is also an option which can permanently prevent pregnancy in both women and men. In women, tubal ligation surgery alters the fallopian tubes to keep sperm from reaching the eggs, whereas in men, a vasectomy alters the vas deferens preventing the release of sperm. Natural family planning relies on couples accurately determining when a woman is ovulating and avoiding having sex during that time.
Why do I have to consider Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) when choosing contraception?
Everyone knows that if you don't practice safe sex, pregnancy might result. However, most people don't realize that if you aren't using condoms and you become infected with a sexually transmitted infection, you may never get pregnant in the future. STIs, transmitted from person to person through intimate sexual contact, infect one in three sexually active people by age 24. Common STIs include chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, HIV, genital warts, herpes, hepatitis, trichomoniasis, scabies, and pubic lice. STIs are a leading cause of infertility because they often display few, if any visible symptoms and when these infections are not properly treated, they can threaten your future fertility.